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Opening Arguments

You don't know spit

I missed the big "Welcome Home, Vietnam Vets" service in Indianapolis on Saturday, and I do like a good pity party:

For many veterans, there were no welcome-home parades or other celebrations. Hahn, instead, remembers getting off a plane in Chicago after spending two years in Vietnam and being spat upon by a woman protesting the unpopular war.

I feel so left out. Nobody every called me a baby killer or spit on me. I don't even know anybody who claims to be have been spit on. I won't go as far as this guy and say the whole spitting thing is a myth -- tempers ran high back in those days. Let's just say the whole thing has been greatly exaggerated. You get the impression listening to some accounts that just for a soldier to set foot in an aiport was to run a maze of saliva, a veritable gauntlet of expectoration. Today, there are people greatly invested in the spiiting stories and people on the other side just as eager to debunk them. It has more to do with group political dynamics than meaningful American history.

Don't get me wrong -- there were some uncomfortable moments. It was an unpopular war by the end, and there weren't many welcome-home parades. I got into a lot of heated arguments with a lot of people, but I enjoyed that then as much as I do now. And I managed to finish my degree at Ball State without any serious altercations with the commie pinko draft dodgers.

I got welcomed home -- I think most vets' experiences were similar -- by the people who mattered, the friends and family who had stayed worried about me for a year. The support group I had before the war was the same one I had after the war.


Bob G.
Mon, 05/19/2008 - 8:03am

Leo, I think this WAS blown out of proportion, and played to mainly the LARGER cities. It was the beginning of sensationalism with the expectorant expectaions.

I don't recall be spat upon personally, but there were those that cast a wary eye at the troops, as well as spoke "hushed" words behind our backs, like we "must" have done something wrong.
Yeah, it's called OUR DUTY.
Still, we DID have our supporters (as did you), and family DID (and still does) mean everything.

It did however differ significantly when compared to WW2, where a soldier (like my father) could travel across the USA (on trains) and would come to a strange city for schooling or training, and rarely had to PAY for anything, because the nation was behind him and what he has doing.

I think we're returning TO that time with the Iraq vets...and that's great to see.

We might not have the ticker-tape parades any longer, but to those that serve, there are those that remember, and think no less of that service OR that person.